Main definitions of ball in US English:

: ball1ball2

ball1

noun

  • 1A solid or hollow spherical or egg-shaped object that is kicked, thrown, or hit in a game.

    ‘a soccer ball’
    • ‘Can you imagine… it must be about twenty five years that I haven't held a cricket ball.’
    • ‘I had enough of pebbles being kicked up at my car, of balls purposely thrown at my windshield, of gargantuan sized twelve year olds banging on my trunk.’
    • ‘Coaches end up teaching the teens how to kick a soccer ball, leap hurdles or swing a bat.’
    • ‘Not every child gets a cricket bat, rugby ball, pair of football boots or spikes as a Christmas or birthday present.’
    • ‘When we returned to Bristol they'd want to throw a baseball with the big gloves and everything rather than a cricket ball.’
    • ‘He tried to dribble the ball, soccer style, around the goalie.’
    • ‘If you see one having fun with a soccer ball then you should immediately kick the ball into the river or ocean.’
    • ‘The ball cannoned off the keeper on to the post before spinning agonisingly over the line.’
    • ‘Jess would rather spend her time kicking a soccer ball round the park with the boys.’
    • ‘As a child, I studied a little, did a bit of mischief and played a lot of cricket with a tennis ball.’
    • ‘It was a little dangerous as we were worried that our oldest son might kick the soccer ball over the wire and set off the alarms.’
    • ‘We're playing street soccer, and the ball is kicked way over the fence onto the road behind the court.’
    • ‘Shoot hoops or kick a soccer ball around in the yard with your children as often as you can.’
    • ‘Forcing his opponent to drop the ball, he flashed in to kick the ball over the line and dive onto it to score a great try.’
    • ‘He threw the ball wide to leave their number 12 free to score under the post.’
    • ‘I could throw a cricket ball a mile, so that's how I got into it at school.’
    • ‘On Sunday it rang to the sounds of snooker balls being shot across the snooker tables, playing host to a snooker competition.’
    • ‘Heather darted for the ball as it came back to her left side and hit it with a backhand.’
    • ‘He encourages time-wasting and has even thrown balls on the pitch to hinder games.’
    • ‘In those days we were just a bunch of street kids playing cricket with a tennis ball and practising drop kicks over the telephone wires.’
    sphere, globe, orb, globule, spherule, spheroid, ovoid
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A spherical object or mass of material.
      ‘a ball of wool’
      ‘he crushed the card into a ball’
      • ‘Suddenly there was a ball of flame and the flash lit up the kitchen area.’
      • ‘Turn the ball of dough onto a floured surface and knead gently until smooth.’
      • ‘Scrape the ball off the spoon onto a well-floured worksurface and knead it.’
      • ‘Remove from heat and quickly beat in all the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until it forms a solid ball.’
      • ‘A ball of plutonium is surrounded with explosives, all of which detonate at precisely the same moment and with exactly the same power.’
      • ‘Susan watched in horror through her kitchen window as a ball of flame came screaming out of the night sky and scored a direct hit on the garden shed.’
      • ‘It's not a developing human being but just a microscopic ball of cells that we can use.’
      • ‘The big ball of black smoke rising into the sky are pretty definite signs something has gone wrong.’
      • ‘The car looked like a crumpled ball of metal.’
      • ‘She hurriedly retrieved the ball of paper and slowly flattening it out.’
      • ‘In that moment, my cousin's image began to unravel all at once, like an unclenched ball of yarn.’
      • ‘These fizzing bath oil balls are solid drops that can be added to bath water.’
      • ‘Then they chew the fibrous fruit into a ball of pulp and spend ages sucking out the goodness.’
      • ‘Suddenly the boat exploded into a great ball of flame, sending pieces of it skyward.’
      • ‘It exploded in an orange ball of flame sending sand and metal fragments flying.’
      • ‘It burst and there was a grey ball of smoke high up above the plaza.’
      • ‘Little boys cluster around stopped cars, offering bags of almonds and popcorn balls.’
      • ‘Armed with a long ash sapling, a ball of cord, a baited hook, a box of worms and a cork I arrived on schedule.’
      • ‘Remove the dough and knead two or three times to form a ball of light dough.’
      • ‘It's a kind of chocolate bomb, a ball of crisp chocolate that crackles and splits to reveal delicious chocolate ice cream inside.’
      sphere, globe, orb, globule, spherule, spheroid, ovoid
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2historical A solid nonexplosive missile for a firearm.
      • ‘Michael Taylor says lead musket balls were made on the site and the team has found spills of molten lead that have formed small hollows in the ground.’
      • ‘Eight of the lead musket balls have been flattened from impact, while others show mold lines, indicating that they had never been used.’
      • ‘But history books fail to impart the human toll, whereas this series forces the reader to see the bodies run through with bayonets or lead balls.’
      • ‘Also uncovered were musket balls, cannonballs, a grenade and tools.’
      • ‘As the barrage of musket balls continued to cascade down, the sailors hurried to tie the ropes, and scramble up after the two containers.’
      bullet, projectile, shot, pellet, slug, lead
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 A game played with a ball.
      ‘he comes across a group of kids playing ball’
    4. 1.4North American Baseball.
      ‘kids have been playing ball in that lot for almost a hundred years’
      ‘young men would graduate from college and enter pro ball’
      • ‘He has played only two full years of pro ball but probably will be ready for the majors within two years.’
      • ‘They also see vast potential in a back who played only one season of college ball.’
      • ‘He challenged his brother to a game of ball.’
      • ‘Once I was old enough to play organized ball, there was lots of baseball, no football.’
      • ‘Most of the kids went on to play varsity high school ball and a couple played in college.’
      • ‘So if your priority is to teach your players the game, then club ball may be for you.’
      • ‘I really thought my days of pro ball would end and I'd be on the first train back East the next morning.’
      • ‘Speaking of college ball though, did you see how many games ended on last second shots yesterday?’
      • ‘He is not playing high school ball and is working on completing his high school requirements.’
      • ‘The cramps possibly were a side effect of a pulled muscle suffered in winter ball last year.’
      • ‘In fact, disputes among tribes in the region were sometimes settled by a game of ball.’
      • ‘To the surprise of even his own countrymen, he preferred to play winter ball.’
      • ‘They told him to forsake his usual practice of pitching in winter ball and rest.’
      • ‘Every year pro ball bears less and less resemblance to the game collegians and kids play.’
      • ‘All the guys who played high school ball wore ankle weights, so I started wearing them, too.’
      • ‘They just came out and played real good team ball and they played well and they flat-out beat us.’
      • ‘Though Williams never played high school or college ball, basketball was his thing.’
      • ‘If they keep playing this entertaining ball, the network will be back.’
      • ‘He fully realizes how rare it is to play high school, college, and pro ball in the same city.’
      • ‘Detroit makes the most of its limited roster by playing some of the best team ball in the League.’
  • 2(in baseball) a pitch delivered outside the strike zone that the batter does not attempt to hit.

    ‘the umpire called it a ball’
    • ‘A lefthanded hitter, he has shown good power, aggressively attacking balls in the strike zone.’
    • ‘Jimmy threw the next two pitches outside for balls.’
    • ‘He lacks discipline at the plate and can often look bad swinging at balls outside the strike zone.’
    • ‘Jimmy threw the first three pitches for balls, then two strikes.’
    • ‘Eight of the next nine pitches were balls and bases were loaded.’
    1. 2.1 (in soccer) a pass of the ball in a specified direction or manner.
      ‘Whelan sent a long ball to Goddard’
      • ‘Van Nistelrooy had been involved in the opening 20 minutes, but a careless ball of his set up the home side's first goal.’
      • ‘He is inspirational in the heart of midfield, slipping intelligent balls through to the strikers, and possess a fearsome shot.’
      • ‘It could be frustrating for Rooney to go from Beckham dropping accurate balls over his shoulder to Everton players delivering wayward passes.’
      • ‘He pounced on a loose ball to and passed to Duff who fed it through to Hasselbaink inside the penalty area.’
      • ‘Expecting a cross, they were static as his inswinging ball flew through the box and into the net off the inside of the far post.’
  • 3The rounded protuberant part of the foot at the base of the big toe.

    • ‘Your back foot can be up on the ball of the foot or flat on the ground.’
    • ‘Lengthening the tendon or an attached calf muscle reduces the pressure on the ball of the foot to help prevent and treat diabetic foot ulcers.’
    • ‘On the ball of the foot, a lump or callus may form because of too much pressure.’
    • ‘Jay ensures that each rep is done using a full range of motion, from deep extension to absolute contraction high up on the ball of the foot.’
    • ‘Demi-pointe, or half point, means balancing on the ball of the foot.’
    • ‘Softer materials are useful for conditions related to shock, such as shin splints, heel bruising and pain beneath the ball of the foot.’
    • ‘According to experts, as we age we lose fat under the ball of the foot.’
    • ‘Both heel pain and heel spurs are frequently associated with inflammation of the band of tissue running along the bottom of the foot, from the heel to the ball of the foot.’
    • ‘Neuromas often cause a sharp tingling or burning sensation radiating to the toes as well as pain in the ball of the foot and between the toes.’
    • ‘Alternatively, if you're put off by the needle or the expense, £5.99 will get you a pair of small, gel-filled cushions to pop into your shoes right under the ball of the foot.’
    • ‘Padding on the heel, ball of the foot, and instep provides extra cushioning and blister protection, and eases pressure from laces and boot folds.’
    • ‘Loop one end of the tubing around the ball of the foot with the injured ankle.’
    • ‘Spinning on ball of the foot she swept her leg around, kicking him in the head.’
    • ‘High-heeled shoes force women to continually walk around on tiptoe, placing all the body weight on the ball of the foot and pushing the foot toward the toe of the shoe.’
    • ‘The skin over the ball of the foot was callused and thickened, and in the middle was a pale area that was 5 mm in diameter.’
    • ‘In cycling, it's known as ‘hot foot’ - a burning pain in the ball of the foot, perhaps radiating toward the toes.’
    • ‘After cleansing, massage feet in small circular motions concentrating on the ball of the foot and joints of each toe.’
    • ‘There should be lots of fast footwork and each step should be performed on the ball of the foot.’
    • ‘The kicking surface can be the ball of the foot, the flat underside of the foot, or as demonstrated here, using the toes.’
    • ‘You put your knee over the ball of the foot, and that creates a cushion, then the plie puts the heel down as you finish landing.’
    1. 3.1 The rounded protuberant part of the hand at the base of the thumb.
      • ‘As a quick check the texture should be similar to that of the ball of the thumb of a closed fist.’
      • ‘When the trigger releases the ball of the thumb presses forward and in that instant the gun is pushed to the right.’
      • ‘The tip of the second finger curls in toward the ball of the thumb until it is under the mouth of the thimble.’
      • ‘Observation has shown that pinches are taken either with the tips of thumb and two fingers or between the ball of the thumb and top knuckle of the forefinger.’
      • ‘To do this, combine the thumb with the first finger, striking down with the ball of the thumb and the nail of the first finger and coming up with the fleshy part of the tip of the first finger alone.’
      • ‘Take one ball and flatten it on the board with the ball of the thumb, to the thickness of about 3/4 inch.’
      • ‘With the ball of the thumb lift the rear ends of the two top cards and slip the tip of the left little finger under them.’
      • ‘Another method for testing sharpness involves moving the ball of the thumb lightly over the blade edge, while the amateur usually tests the knife by shaving the hair of the forearm.’
      • ‘Playing with the hand involves a rocking motion between the thumb or ball of the thumb and the fingers or outside edge of the palm.’
      • ‘Some archers wear a thumb ring to protect the ball of the thumb from the string when it is released.’
      • ‘Therefore, the ball of the thumb is often severely strained, especially when snowboarding.’
      • ‘The right hand is first put in action, firm pressure being made with the ball of the thumb and the heel of the hand until the median line is reached.’

Phrases

  • the ball is in your court

    • It is up to you to make the next move.

      ‘the ball is firmly in the court of the EC Commission’
      • ‘If you know in your heart that you're a ball of fire, but just can't get off the couch in the evenings, you might want to look into your diet and exercise programs.’
      • ‘Rebecca is really energetic, she's a ball of fire.’
  • a ball of fire

    • A person full of energy and enthusiasm.

  • keep the ball rolling

    • Maintain the momentum of an activity.

      • ‘To keep the ball rolling, I thought I'd share five key themes that resonated for everyone who attended the conference.’
      • ‘You have to set certain goals on a short term basis to keep the ball rolling.’
      • ‘We've got to keep the ball rolling, otherwise the whole thing could collapse.’
      • ‘The €150,000 I am allocating today will keep the ball rolling.’
      • ‘However the economic decision was made years ago and it has been political will that has kept the ball rolling.’
      • ‘Her duty was to breezily keep the ball rolling, maintaining the appearance of a freewheeling, open dialogue while steering the topic in positive directions.’
      • ‘However, we still need to make a constant and vigilant effort to keep the ball rolling.’
      • ‘A bingo session on Wednesday and a quiz night on Thursday kept the ball rolling ahead of tomorrow's showcase event.’
      • ‘Mr Knight told the Evening Press today: ‘I hope I can keep the ball rolling on this.’’
      • ‘‘We're getting better, and we just hope we can keep the ball rolling in the right direction,’ said Edwards.’
  • keep one's eye on (or take one's eye off) the ball

    • Keep (or fail to keep) one's attention focused on the matter in hand.

      • ‘This takes my eye off the ball but fortunately I work with an experienced team so things don't go wrong.’
      • ‘He took his eye off the ball and did not really appreciate that the client was manipulating him.’
      • ‘And our worry about this, as your interview suggested earlier, is that we're taking our eye off the ball.’
      • ‘We know from experience that dabbling in areas outside your area of expertise takes your eye off the ball of your core business.’
      • ‘But I can't look too far ahead because the minute you do that you take your eye off the ball.’
      • ‘And pensions wasn't the only occasion when he took his eye off the ball.’
      • ‘But we have to stay fully focused and not take our eye off the ball.’
      • ‘We mustn't take our eye off the ball if we are to continue to improve services in emergency care.’
      • ‘They can't afford to take their eye off the ball.’
      • ‘I think it's important that it's used as a reality check for everyone so that they don't take their eye off the ball.’
  • on the ball

    • 1Alert to new ideas, methods, and trends.

      ‘maintaining contact with customers keeps me on the ball’
      • ‘He warned that the players who step in will have to be on the ball.’
      • ‘I wish we'd been on the ball enough just to get a copy of the swimming pool skit which was the only one that got edited, but we had more on our mind at the time.’
      • ‘She told me I was on the ball, and I gleefully admitted to having counted down the days!’
      • ‘If the fault in this case lies with officials who weren't on the ball, let's see someone deal with them.’
      • ‘There was also a commentator who seemed rather on the ball.’
      • ‘Luckily he was more on the ball and able to sort me out a disk.’
      • ‘When a customer complains, you need to be on the ball and get things done for them.’
      • ‘It seems that Jim is really on the ball these days.’
      • ‘As it happens his second email indicated that he was on the ball and I needn't have been so concerned.’
      • ‘If you are a solicitor, for example, you need to sound on the ball.’
      1. 1.1Indicating competence, alertness, or intelligence.
        ‘a woman like that, with so much on the ball’
        • ‘I was even more amazed to find him personable, intelligent and on the ball.’
        • ‘He's also pushing eighty five, and while totally on the ball, surely not as sharp as he was in 1957.’
        alert, quick-witted, sharp, bright, quick, keen, perceptive, wide awake, responsive, agile, acute, astute
        View synonyms
  • play ball

    • 1Work willingly with others; cooperate.

      ‘if his lawyers won't play ball, there's nothing we can do’
      • ‘If the contractor is willing to play ball, then you can launch the project immediately.’
      • ‘We imagine they won't be willing to play ball on this front.’
      • ‘But his officials believe the vice-chancellors are willing to play ball.’
      • ‘I catch an early train to the Lake District in the morning, and the camera gets the full test, as long as the weather plays ball.’
      • ‘Even Government departments are playing ball.’
      • ‘If the tourism board wants to refuse to play ball, then the government will intervene.’
      • ‘And what I give him credit for is playing ball with congressional Republicans and having mildly conservative economic policies on trade, on taxes, on regulation.’
      • ‘The council must know the hazards and risks but they are not playing ball.’
      • ‘It was clear that it had to be done under conditions of confidentiality or Craig wouldn't be willing to play ball.’
      • ‘Yet profits are likely to suffer over time as additional pension contributions mount up, especially if the employees don't play ball.’
    • 2Baseball
      The umpire's command to begin or resume play.

      • ‘Shouts of "play ball" ringing from the home plate umpire are only about a month away at Amgen Field in Thousand Oaks.’
      • ‘The batter must take her position in the batter's box within 10 seconds after the umpire has declared, "Play Ball."’
  • start (or get or set) the ball rolling

    • Set an activity in motion; make a start.

      ‘to start the ball rolling, the government was asked to contribute a million dollars to the fund’
      • ‘We have started the ball rolling, now others can take our lead.’
      • ‘The out-going General Manager has started the ball rolling!’
      • ‘Sunday's event was such a runaway success that organisers are keen to get the ball rolling on the next one.’
      • ‘She said: ‘We are delighted students at the University of York are getting behind the Trust and are really grateful for the efforts of Tom, Richard and James for starting the ball rolling.’’
      • ‘Warren started the ball rolling with a couple of pages that introduced us to the main characters.’
      • ‘Using his own money and living in his parent's basement, he got the ball rolling on the organisation.’
      • ‘I want our meeting in Waterford to set the ball rolling on the next generation of waste management policies - to find a better way of using our natural resources and managing our waste.’
      • ‘This first closure order has started the ball rolling now and we expect there to be many more.’
      • ‘My recommendation is that we get general elections out of the way now and start the ball rolling.’
      • ‘I wanted to get the ball rolling before something happened to change his mind.’
  • the whole ball of wax

    • informal Everything.

      • ‘They had the perseverance to keep enlarging their vocabulary, their accuracy, their present, past and future verb tenses, the whole ball of wax.’
      • ‘It ties the whole ball of wax together, from studio to director to actors to grips.’
      • ‘However, his nominees suggest that he's going to go straight out and try to go for the whole ball of wax at first.’
      • ‘‘The quintessential entrepreneur is someone who wants to put his hands around the whole ball of wax,’ says Kriss.’
      • ‘I've said before that a restaurant isn't just about the food but about the whole ball of wax - decor, vibe and service thrown in.’
      • ‘Are we all part of a shrinking world where we can count on our commonalities to keep the whole ball of wax in one piece?’
      • ‘That includes a consultation, an exam, and your first adjustment, the whole ball of wax.’
      • ‘The point of the book is nobody has to take over the whole ball of wax.’
      • ‘They still are playing for the whole ball of wax.’
      • ‘Alpinism is the whole ball of wax, not just one aspect of climbing.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • ball something up

    • Bungle or mismanage something.

      • ‘I well and truly went over board and completely balled it up.’
      • ‘Of course, there is also the possibility that you could write a truly outstanding speech, only to then completely balls it up when the time comes to deliver it!’

Origin

Middle English: from Old Norse bǫllr, of Germanic origin.

Pronunciation

ball

/bɔl//bôl/

Main definitions of ball in US English:

: ball1ball2

ball2

noun

  • A formal social gathering for dancing.

    as modifier ‘a ball gown’
    ‘the social season was highlighted by debutante balls’
    • ‘I just wanted to tell you that you'll be having a debutante ball on your birthday!’
    • ‘Which was the reason why I still went to balls and the social functions of the season.’
    • ‘They were in great demand for hunt balls, ballroom dancing, weddings and other social gatherings.’
    • ‘It was long and gauzy; it felt like something that should be worn to a masquerade ball, or a prom.’
    • ‘He watched as his mother emerged from her room, dressed in her ball gown and sparkling in rubies.’
    • ‘Built in the 1870s it was the first hall in Auckland for musical activities, balls, social events and even ladies' roller skating.’
    • ‘You're probably swanning around the place up there right now in a ball gown and heels…’
    • ‘She thought wistfully of the elegant ball gown that had been made just for tonight.’
    • ‘The girls planned their ball gowns for weeks ahead and the talk was about boys from a nearby Catholic school.’
    • ‘That evening at the ball she watched the formal introductions patiently waiting so that she could go and greet Natalie.’
    • ‘I had many offers to balls and social gatherings but I had never accepted.’
    • ‘Banquets, balls, dinner dances, bazaars and fetes, exhibitions and civic receptions were held there in its proud heyday.’
    • ‘The only time she ever puts her hair up is during a ball or formal affair.’
    • ‘An invitation to a formal dance or ball is the perfect excuse to indulge in your fairytale fantasies.’
    • ‘It will match any outfit and is perfect for any occasion, from out for the day to a formal ball.’
    • ‘Social balls and charity have morphed into PR events and openings.’
    • ‘I also liked dancing at the palace balls and playing the flute.’
    • ‘After all, you don't miss your debutante ball, especially when your family is hosting it.’
    • ‘However, most did boast a formal music room, where recitals and smaller dances and balls could be held.’
    • ‘It was the morning of the debutante ball and I was giving Ryan last minute dance lessons.’
    dance, dinner dance, masked ball, masquerade, tea dance
    View synonyms

Phrases

  • have a ball

    • informal Enjoy oneself greatly; have a lot of fun.

      ‘I had a ball on my fortieth birthday’
      • ‘We enjoyed our time at school; we had a ball and it's great to get together and remember those days.’
      • ‘If you're the one who's stuck at home, it's easy to imagine your other half having a ball in foreign climes, free from the dreary chores of going to the market and cleaning the house.’
      • ‘The many young Spanish students who are in town over the past few weeks are having a ball and really enjoyed ‘Music Week’.’
      • ‘But just before he disappears, he switches off the tape recorder and confides: ‘I'm having a ball!’’
      • ‘I suppose that some day Jamie and Craig will outgrow all this pretend play, but, for now, they are having a ball, enjoying each other's company and stretching their imaginations.’
      • ‘Dave said: ‘I'm having a ball, although part of me obviously misses Thailand.’’
      • ‘We are having a ball and the weather has just crowned it all.’
      • ‘Despite the poor weather conditions on the day everyone enjoyed themselves and had a ball.’
      • ‘Normally I don't enjoy it that much but this year I really had a ball.’
      • ‘The band were loving it and having a ball, the vibe was just amazing.’
      have a good time, have a great time, have fun, have the time of one's life
      View synonyms

Origin

Early 17th century: from French bal ‘a dance’, from late Latin ballare ‘to dance’; related to Greek ballizein ‘to dance’ (also ballein ‘to throw’).

Pronunciation

ball

/bɔl//bôl/